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2009 Nov by Jorge Sanchez
For your guidance, there are no airports in Ogasawara, except a military one. Therefore, the only way to get there is by boat.|
It takes 25 hours the boat journey from Tokyo to Chichi Jima, in Ogasawara archipelago. The boat name is Ogasawara Maru and sails from the port of Takeshiba, Tokyo, every 6 days. The Metro station closest to Takeshiba is Hamamatsu-Cho, of the Yamanote Line, and then you have about 10 minutes walking to Takeshiba port. The shippimg office at the port is closed at 10 PM, and then you can sleep on a wooden bench outside. There will be many homeless people around sleeping on cardboards. They are harmless. I spent the night in a bench and nobody bothered me, the Japanese vagabonds are very gentle and they just smiled to me.
The boat ticket is expensive, about 45.000 Yens round trip (in November 2009 for 1 euro I was given 130 Yens) sleeping on a dormitory, on the floor together with over one hundred Japanese. A cabin is much more expensive and it is difficult to get one. The shipping company makes discounts on the ticket for students and senior travellers.
On board everything is more expensive than in Tokyo, for instance, food and drinks. But the showers are free of charge.
The minimum stay in Ogasawara will be 3 days and 3 nights, while the Ogasawara Maru is in the island.
In the island there is a cheap internet service up the hill, in a telecommunication station. For 1 hour you pay 200 Yens.
There are many small restaurants in Chichijima. The cheapest is the Chinese one, where for about 700 Yens you will get a noodle soup with some vegetables. You can also buy in a supermarket a dish of sushi, for instance, for about 500 Yens, and then eat it in a bench by the beach. There are many drinks machine everywhere and for about 120 Yens you can buy soft drinks and even hot coffee, day and night.
On Sundays there are Mass services in the Catholic Church. The Father is half Japanese and half Portuguese, but he does not speaks Portuguese, just Japanese and English. Most people in Ogasawara are a mixture of Japanese and Americans or Europeans.
Hotels in Chichijima, I was told, are expensive. There is a Youth hostel where for a bed in a dormitory you pay about 3000 Yens, but still expensive for my pocket.
I slept in my \"hotel\", free of charge, by the beach, where there are showers. See picture.
I was expecting at any moment the visit of the Police to tell me that I can not sleep there, but never occurred. In that case I would have said that I was a traveller and had little money, not enough for a hotel, what was true. I am sure that the Japanese Police, being very nice people, would had understood me, because in Tokyo airport they also let me spent the night inside the airport, in spite of being closed from 11 PM to 5 AM the next day.
By the way, camping is prohibited in Ogasawara (Chichi Jima and Haha Jima).
Just for your cultural information: in October 1543 the Spanish explorer Bernardo de la Torre, under the command of Ruy López de Villalobos, on board of the ship San Juan, discovered Chichijima, which he called Farfama, but did not land. In that same journey the Spaniards discovered Parece Vela, Marcus and many other islands in that part of Oceania.
................................................ AND NOW IN SPANISH: En el año 2012 la organización UNESCO estimó que el archipiélago de Ogasawara, compuesto por unas 30 islas, merecía ser declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la riqueza de su ecosistema más su fauna endémica. Unos años antes había navegado a la isla principal de ese archipiélago, a Chichi Jima, por otro motivo: había estudiado que Bernardo de la Torre, de la expedición del hidalgo Ruy López de Villalobos, a bordo de la nave San Juan de Letrán había descubierto en el año 1543 diversas islas de ese archipiélago. Avistó Chichi Jima y la describió, bautizándola Farfama, pero no llegó a desembarcar en ella. Sí que lo hizo en Parece Vela, Iwo Jima y en Marcus, entre otras. El único modo de que los turistas viajen a esas islas es abordando un ferry que zarpa semanalmente del puerto de Tokio y toma unas 30 horas en llegar a Chichi Jima. Como no regresa a Tokio hasta tres días más tarde, ese es el tiempo mínimo del que uno dispone para descubrir esas islas. Si la vida en Japón es cara, en Chichi Jima lo era todavía más, ya que la mayoría de los productos se traían desde Tokio. El hotel más barato era el Horizon Dream, pero sus precios eran disparatados para mi presupuesto. Existía un albergue de juventud, pero en las fechas que yo estuve en Chichi Jima, estaba cerrado. Por ello mi alojamiento durante tres noches fue una cabaña de paja en la playa. Muy cerca de ella había un grifo mediante el cual me lavaba, duchaba y afeitaba a diario. Visité en autostop la práctica totalidad de la isla, con su flora y parte de su fauna, observado lagartos de aspecto raro y aves exóticas de diversos pelajes, avisté sus caladeros de ostras en el mar, y hasta fui invitado en un par de ocasiones a beber té en las casas de los amables japoneses que me recogían en sus vehículos. Noté que los nativos tenían facciones ligeramente diferentes de las de los japoneses de las islas principales del país. Y es que Ogasawara siempre fue escala de marineros y balleneros, algunos de los cuales se reproducían con fruición con las lozanas mozas locales. Por poner unos ejemplos, el párroco de la Iglesia Católica me confesó que era medio portugués debido a un marinero de la Isla de Madeira que sedujo a su madre, y el monje sintoísta del templo en lo alto de la colina, con el que también hice amistad, me contó que tenía mezcla de sangre estadounidense, concretamente de un abuelo de Oklahoma, que era ballenero. Durante mi estancia no dejé de visitar el Museo de Historia. En él recordaban mediante letreros a Bernardo de la Torre y a Ruy López de Villalobos, aunque su nombre lo deformaban por Louis. El cuarto día me despedí de mis amigos, del párroco y del monje, y embarqué en el ferry de regreso a Tokio. Al igual que ocurrió a la llegada, bailarines ataviados con ropajes coloridos nos deleitaron a los pasajeros con vistosas danzas. Sayonara Chichi Jima!
2007 Mar by Donald M Parrish Jr
There is a report and a three-minute tribute - a video slide show with music on my visit to Iwo Jima on March 14, 2007 on my website at: www.donparrish.com/IwoJima2007.html. |
Visiting Iwo Jima is difficult. Tourists can visit only one day a year during the Reunion of Honor. That is a ceremony attended by veterans of both the United States and Japan to honor the memories of their fallen comrades. It is the most emotionally charged visit I have made as a traveler. It was a high honor and a distinct privilege to visit Iwo Jima. There were about 20 MTP and TCC members who visited on March 14, 2007.
2006 Dec by Veikko Huhtala*
Ogasawara Islands (Bonin Islands) are situated about 1000 kilometres south of Tokyo. In my opinion Izu Islands (Hachijojima) are not part of Ogasawara.They are only 300 km from Tokyo. We booked our Ogasawara voyage in Finland before leaving to Japan. Our boat (Ogasawara Maru) was sailing 25 hours to Chichijima where we stayed 3 days. Other Ogasawara islands are for example Hahajima and Ivojima. Fantastic trip! |
2002 Apr by Ted Cookson
HOW TO GET TO OGASAWARA:|
The detailed information below, compiled by Ted Cookson in May 2002, was submitted twice to the Travelers Century Club but never published by that organizaiton as "trip notes," presumably because of the inclusion of a travel agent's name and contact information. However, a point was made of including that data specifically since the only way to reach the Ogasawara Islands by public transportation is via ferry from Tokyo, Japan. Because the ferry operates on an irregular schedule and often sails fully-booked, it would be very difficult for those not familiar with the Japanese language to determine the schedule and to make firm round trip reservations by themselves. Thus a knowledgeable travel agent at home with a reliable correspondent agent in Japan is essential in planning a trip to this destination. Expect to pay a travel agent service fee as the ferry is not commissionable to your home travel agent.
At Nippori I disembarked from the Skyliner and changed from the Keisei Line, which was elevated there, to the elevated JR Yamanote Line, which I rode nine stops to reach Hamamatsucho Station. As a check, Tokyo Station is the sixth stop. It was an easy quarter of a mile walk (less than 10 minutes) to Tokyo's Takeshiba (Ferry) Passenger Terminal (TPT) from Hamamatsucho Station. There is an even closer elevated monorail stop called Takeshiba Station, but this is on a line which is not likely to be as convenient for someone coming from downtown Tokyo , and it requires two changes to reach this stop if coming from
Several high rise buildings are situated near TPT. These include Tokyo Bay Intercontinental Hotel. However, the (Bayside) Azur Takeshiba Hotel where I stayed (12,705 yen or approx. USD 102/night including taxes for a single without breakfast; my room was spotless but tiny and featured no English TV stations; the reception desk is on the fourth floor), is a better landmark because it bears the word "Azur" high on its side. This can be seen from quite a distance, though not immediately when one exits from Hamamatsucho Station. The Azur Takeshiba is adjacent to TPT, separated only by a small semi-circular plaza in the middle of which is an old wooden sailing ship's mast (there is no ship - just the mast).
TPT is at ground level. But it is hidden under the elevated promenade along Takeshiba Pier. TPT is between the Azur Takeshiba Hotel and the Tokyo Bay Intercontinental Hotel. There is one office building between TPT and the Tokyo Bay Intercontinental Hotel.
In order to receive my one way ferry ticket from Tokyo to Chichi-jima, I had to hand my exchange order (the Japanese language travel document which I was carrying and which resembled an air ticket printed on cardboard stock) to the clerk at window number 8 in Takeshiba Passenger Terminal. This was not allowed until less than two hours prior to departure.
There is an information office at TPT, but not every person working in the office speaks English. Interestingly, one gentleman who spoke no English could write a few words of English - enough, in fact, so that I could figure out what time boarding would take place. (He wrote, "On ship ") Boarding commenced about 45 minutes prior to departure. The line formed out in the plaza. I unwittingly "took cuts" as boarding began by entering the line directly through the left-hand exit of the TPT rather than going out to the plaza first to get in line. No one seemed to notice or care, probably because I was one of about 10 non-Japanese passengers to board. Most of those other foreigners appeared to be boyfriends or girlfriends of Japanese passengers.
Incidentally, there are plenty of vending machines in the TPT and also a change machine. There are well-marked toilets too. I didn't use it, but there is even an office where one can check baggage which is then be loaded onto the ferry and delivered back upon arrival at Chichi-jima.
The ferry, Ogasawara Maru, 6,700 tons and holding several containers and hundreds of passengers (perhaps 500 passengers?? - this is just a guess), departed from Tokyo exactly on time at ; and it was comp0letely full on
On board the ferry, vending machines offer Ramen noodles and many types of soda pop plus beer and water. There is a change machine. There is also a cold water fountain from which one can easily refill a mineral water bottle. There are a restaurant and a snack bar too, each of which has limited hours and serves Japanese food. The reception desk sells various junk foods plus postcards and other souvenirs. Finally, there is a small room with four video arcade-type game machines.
While rather expensive cabin accommodation is available, I chose the much cheaper dormitory-style accommodation. Even this ran about USD 360 round trip. There were several second class dorms which accommodated about 100 passengers each and several others which held about 16 passengers. These were spread over the lower three decks. Place numbers are handed out in the order of boarding. But the first aboard do not necessary receive the "best" places. I was the first person in second class to board leaving Tokyo and I got a place next to a wall (which I thought was best) in a 16 passenger room. But I was also the first person in second class to board leaving Chichi-jima and I got a place exactly in the middle of a 100-passenger room. (Only one dorm room was utilized on the return as there weren't that many passengers.)
Dormitory-style accommodation meant sleeping in an assigned place on the floor which had wall-to-wall carpeting. Etiquette requires one's shoes to be taken off before stepping on the carpeting. A blue woollen blanket was provided to sleep on and an orange woollen blanket was provided to pull over oneself. Sleeping on the floor was not really that uncomfortable as the blankets were quite thick.
I had been worried about smoking. I guess there must have been a no smoking sign posted in Japanese because no one smoked in the dormitories. However, everywhere else outside the dorms was fair game for smoking, and the smoke there was pretty thick.